June 24, 2007

Week 1 Results: 20.7 oz. of plastic waste!

Plastic MeditationBeth, how can you look so serene among all that evil plastic? You’re killing the planet! You’re murdering small animals! Snap out of it!

Now, now, chickadees. I haven’t killed anything yet. All this pretty plastic is still in my house waiting to discover what it will become next. Kind of like me. And aren’t the flowers nice? I’m sitting in my roof garden and it’s a gorgeous day!

So here’s the deal. Yep, there is a lot of plastic waste this week. I’m using up the plastic that I’d already purchased before this experiment began. It’s allowed because I’m making up the rules. So, here is the tally of items used this week but purchased earlier:

First, plastic wrappers, bags, and other non-recyclable plastic:

  • 6 Kashi granola bar wrappers. I only have a few more left, and then I’ll switch to eating cereal in a bowl in the morning.
  • 1 Whole Treats Belgian Chocolates Little Bites bag plus 10 individual candy wrappers. I addressed this product in my Whole Foods review. Sadly, I’ll be giving it up.
  • 1 Baked Doritos bag. This was included in a Bay to Breakers swag bag. From now on, I’m only going to take the free stuff that I really want and leave the rest behind. Who needs a million key chains and magnets and water bottles, let alone junk food like Doritos?
  • 1 Whole Foods 365 Organic cheddar cheese wrapper. Going to start buying cheddar cheese from the deli, I think.
  • 1 Kettle Bakes potato chips bag. Impulse purchase at the video store, and it didn’t even taste very good!
  • 7 Emergen-C packets. Just going to give this up as soon as it’s gone. I have about a box and a half left. Wouldn’t need it if I’d just start eating actual fruit. Oranges, what a concept.
  • 1 plastic wrapper from a box of Twinings tea. Going to switch to bulk tea.
  • 1 wrapper from a Costco 3-pack of Classico spaghetti sauce. Costco is simply unnecessary for a 2-person family.
  • 3 plastic films from frozen dinners — Eating Right and Organic Bistro. Eating Right is Safeway’s brand of Lean Cuisine. I’m done with it; no question. My internal jury is still out on Organic Bistro. The meals are awesome, the trays are cardboard, and they only contain one thin film of plastic over the top. No final decision yet.
  • About 5 feet of used packing tape. Came from one of our old moving boxes. What strong alternative is there to plastic packing tape?
  • 4 unidentifiable clear plastic wrappers. Who can remember?
  • 1 underlid insert from vitamin bottle. The bottle is glass and the cap is plastic. But I have already re-used the bottle and cap, so am only including the insert in this list.
  • 1 lid and pump from a can of shave gel. Anybody have any suggestions for shave gel alternatives? Not ready to go natural. I did that back in my hippie chick days, but I can’t bring myself to go there again. Soap is not smooth enough… causes nicks and bumps. I have 2 more cans left before I have to step up. HELP!
  • 1 Silk soy milk spout and cap. Talked about soy milk before. Still looking to see if there are any brands without the plastic cap. Will continue to buy Silk until I find something better. Maybe I’ll make jewelry out of the pretty green caps.
  • 7 Refresh Endura single-use eyedrop containers. Unavoidable. These are the only drops that will work to combat my recurrent corneal erosion, so that my cornea only rips off a few mornings a month rather than every morning. (Yes. It hurts. A lot.) Here is one case in which plastic is a good thing. It eliminates the need for irritating preservatives in the drops because each tiny, sterile, sealed container is used once and discarded.
  • 1 Redwood Farms grated parmesan cheese container and lid. There is no recycle number on this container! Okay, but disregarding this particular irresponsible container, how CAN one buy parmesan cheese without plastic? Anyone? Blocks come wrapped in plastic wrap. You can’t get it at the deli. Ideas???
  • 18 Invisalign aligners. I found these when I was cleaning out a drawer. I thought I’d thrown them all away months ago. Now, the only plastic aligners I have left (after 2 years of teeth-straightening) are the retainers that make me look so sexy in bed at night. Maybe I’ll keep these last 18 and make an art project out of them.
  • 1 plastic card holder from a bouquet of “Get Well Soon” flowers I received last week. There must be something I can do with it. It kinda resembles a mini pitchfork.
  • 1 Brita faucet filter. I just found out that these are recyclable… in Europe! The U.S. site mentions nothing about recycling them. I sent an e-mail to the corporate office in Oakland (just down the street from me.) We’ll see what they say. Oh, and by the way, the weight of this item was not included in the total for the week because most of its weight is from wet charcoal. I have no idea how much the plastic alone weighs because I can’t figure out any way to take it apart. I tried. With a knife. No Luck.

Now for the recyclable plastic items:

  • 2 #1 CA Redemption Value bottles: A 64-oz True Blue juice bottle and a 1.25 litre Crystal Geyser bottle. That was my last plastic juice bottle. Will be switching to glass water bottles as soon as I use up my last 2 Crystal Geyser bottles. Michael will take these to Safeway to get money for them.
  • Other #1 plastic: 2 Eating Right frozen dinner trays, 1 small salad dressing to go cup & lid, and 15 Invisalign aligner blister packs (See above.) Michael can take #1 plastic to the recycle bin at his firm. 7/16/07 Update: I was wrong about #1 plastic. SF does NOT recycle these containers, so those that I gave Michael to take to work are now landfill fodder. Oh well, I’ll know better next time.
  • #5 plastic: 3 pudding cups and 1 Haig’s Spicy Hummus container. I can make my own pudding. Or eat ice cream instead. But the Haig’s is something special. Really. No one makes it like them. Probably will keep buying it, especially since Michael can take #5 plastic to the recycle bin at his firm.

Oh, and I retired an old toothbrush this week and started using a Preserve toothbrush, but I’ve kept the old toothbrush for cleaning, so it’s not on the list yet.

That’s it for the waste from items purchased before the plastic project began. Okay, now for this week’s brand new plastic waste. On Monday, I thoughtlessly ordered Chinese food to be delivered for me and a friend without asking how it would be packaged. Of course, it didn’t occur to me it would come in anything other than those white and red take-out boxes. Boy was I wrong! So, here’s the list for this week:

  • 2 #6 plastic containers from Yang Chow Chinese Restaurant in Oakland.I don’t know if #6 plastic can be recycled.
  • 1 #4 container & lid from Yang Chow. Michael can take #4 plastic to the recycle bin at his firm.
  • 1 fortune cookie wrapper from Yang Chow.
  • 1 soy sauce packet from, you guessed it, Yang Chow.

And here are the few plastic items that I purchased this week that are destined for next week’s plastic waste list:

  • 1 half gallon carton of Silk soy milk.
  • 1 container of Haig’s spicy hummus
  • 1 Organic Bistro frozen meal
  • 1 Seeds of Change frozen meal I don’t actually know if this one has plastic. I’ll find out when I open it. I’m assuming it does have a little.

So, there’s the list. I’m expecting it will get shorter and shorter each week. And like I said, none of this plastic has entered the waste-stream yet. The stuff we can’t recycle is in a bag, waiting for its time to shine.

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I am also using a environmental friendly toothbrush call Denson. Its head is replaceable and the handle is wholelife warranty. I am not sure whether the used head is recyclable. I do support this product by setting up an online store to recommend to those people who care about the earth's health. Please check it and comment on the value in the "environment care" stand point. Which one is better? Preserve or the one I get to know?

From: Andy (from Malaysia)
email: andyngwaiseng@gmail.com